Many mistake the shows of sophistication—modulated voices and stylish sentences--for intellectual depth. But the educated can spot what is left out of the NPR or “New York Times” report. Usually it is a serious consideration from the other side.Mistaking style for substance Republican “moderates” have been fooled and fallen into the enemy’s trap. A good professor does not speak in the monotone of a policy meeting or business negotiations. He moves around the room, gesticulates, asks provocative questions, and even, as I heard two lawyers discuss a favorite professor they had at the University of Georgia, throw chairs out the window. Conversely, many tune into NPR’s soothing “analysis” to drift off to sleep.
What the talk show hosts do is present foundational ideas to concerned and intellectually curious citizens. Their wild success exposes a hunger for ideas rarely met in other forums—like our schools. That is why they want to shut down talk radio as it is today.
So I suggest that the government functionaries and politicians take a moment out of their wonkish study of policy and listen in to talk radio. I suggest they go pick up Tocqueville. If they want to be voted into office they need to understand what he says about a free democracy: “No one easily allows himself to be reduced to the mere material cares of life; and the humblest artisan casts at times an eager and a further glance into the higher regions of the intellect.”
Tocqueville is talking about the middle class that keeps this country going. And today they are millions of voters and they’re educating themselves by listening to talk radio and buying books.